Saturday's 56-15 loss to Ole Miss completed Louisiana's third contest of the season. The lopsided defeat dropped the Cajuns to 1-2 and closed the books on the first quarter of their season. It's time to hand out a progress report on the Cajuns, and the teacher's prized pupil has disappointed to say the least. The good news for the Cajuns is that with lots of studying, homework, and tutoring, they can improve their grades when it comes time for the final report card.
To say Terrance Broadway has struggled early in 2014 would be an understatement. The senior from Baton Rouge was picked to be the conference's best offensive player, and he has been anything but. Broadway has thrown 6 interceptions and only completed 58.06% of his passes. In his last two games, losses to Louisiana Tech and Ole Miss, the Cajun QB has only thrown for 279 yards with one touchdown. Broadway has still been able to run the ball well and is currently second on the team in rushing. However, for the Cajuns season to turn around, Broadway must improve by leaps and bounds.
The run game has been one of the lone bright spots for the Cajun offense, up to this point in the season. Alonzo Harris and Elijah McGuire have run the ball well when given the opportunity. Through three games sophomore McGuire is averaging 7 yards per carry, to go along with 70 yards a game. Senior Harris is averaging 4.5 yards per carry and has scored twice. Outside of a costly fumble early in the first quarter at Ole Miss, Harris has done a great job of pounding the ball, and softening up the opponent's defensive front. To have success going forward the Cajuns need to stay committed to the run and then take shots down field. The Cajuns have been forced to abandon the run, due to being down early in their last two contests.
Wide Receiver/Tight End:
Louisiana entered the season with arguably the Sun Belt's best group of wideouts. Broadway's struggles have limited the productivity of the Cajun receivers. Despite missing Saturday's game at Ole Miss, senior Jamal Robinson still leads the Cajuns in touchdowns, yards, and yards per catch. We have seen the Cajun wideouts and tight ends drop a few passes in big situations thus far this season. The Cajuns will need to fix these simple mistakes, to help out their quarterback. Look for other playmakers like senior James Butler and sophomore Al Riles to set up and make big plays in the passing game.
The O-line's biggest question mark entering the season was who would replace graduating senior and four year starter Andre Huval? Terry Johnson has been the answer. Along with returning starters Mykhael Quave, Daniel Quave, and Octravian Anderson, this unit has proven to be one of the strongest parts of the Cajun offense. Donovan Williams has also been plugged in at left guard. After getting off to slow start against Southern in week 1, the line has really picked up their play. Coach Hudspeth walked away after Saturday's loss at Ole Miss really impressed with this group. Monday after studying film he was quoted as saying "After looking, I was even more impressed" when asked about the big fellas up front. As this group continues to get better so should the offense.
Entering 2014 there was no question that this unit was the strongest part of the Cajun defense. Led by seniors Justin Hamilton and Christian Ringo, this group is the anchor of the defense. However it seems that the anchor has not hit the water yet. The Cajuns are giving up 176.3 yards per game on the ground, or 5.2 yards per carry. Justin Hamilton leads the team with 1.5 sacks, two quarterback hurries and 2.5 tackles for loss. If the Cajun defense wants to turn things around Justin "Juice" Hamilton will need some help in opponents' backfields.
Replacing an all-conference performer is never an easy task, and the Cajuns are finding out first hand just how tough it is. They've struggled to replace Justin Anderson, who exhausted his eligibility last season. Lafayette native Kevin Fouquier has done a nice job of filling in at middle linebacker, but making up for the 131 tackles that Anderson provided will be next to impossible. Junior Dominique Tovell returned as the Cajuns leading tackler with 67 stops a season ago, and has performed decently thus far in 2014. Tovell does lead the team with three tackles for loss. Overall, the linebacker play has been decent, but the middle of the defense must get better for Louisiana to get back on the right track. The Cajuns are currently giving up 455 yards a game, good enough for eighth in the Sun Belt.
As the 2014 season approached, the biggest concern for the Cajuns was the secondary. After three games it's still the BIGGEST concern. Louisiana has been eaten up by the pass, allowing 279 yards a game and 7 touchdowns. The Cajun defense has also only been able to force one turnover, an interception by Sean Thomas last week at Ole Miss. In an attempt to shore up the pass defense the Cajuns announced this week that they will be making changes in the secondary. Senior Trevence Patt will move from safety to corner, he will be replacing sophomore Dominick Jones. T.J. Worthy will slide into Patt's vacated strong safety spot. The secondary must improve for the Cajuns to get back in the win column.
Hunter Stover won the kicking job after fall camp and has hit on 3 of 4 attempts. His lone miss was a 51-yard attempt against Louisiana Tech. He's hit all of his extra point tries. Daniel Cadona has arguably been the best defensive weapon for Louisiana. He is averaging 49.27 yards per kick and was named as the Ray Guy National Player of the Week for his week 3 performance at Ole Miss.
After tallying up the scores Louisiana finishes the first quarter with a D.
The defense has been bad, that was expected when the season started. However the offense, more specifically Terrance Broadway's poor play, was not.
The last two weeks have been a major disappointment for Louisiana. While a loss at Ole Miss was not unexpected, the blow out fashion in which it occurred was. Add that with week two's blowout loss at home, to instate rival Louisiana Tech, and the mood is not great in Lafayette. But Cajun fans, DON'T LET GO OF THE ROPE. Coach Hudspeth and his staff will get things turned around, as the offense will get better and so will the defense. I still look for the Cajuns to win the Sun Belt, although it's no longer a slam dunk. This team will have to grind out close games and find a way to win them.
Check back with us after the Texas State game to see if the Cajuns have hit the books and improved their grades or decided to ditch class and the season.